In seven years exploring and backpacking O'Keeffe country Varjabedian retraces the artist's footsteps, reinterpreting Ghost Ranch's iconic scenery in 110 breathtaking black-and-white photographs.
— New Mexico Magazine
Ghost Ranch and the Faraway Nearby handsomely reproduces [Varjabedian's] black and white photographs that portray the parched New Mexican soil under tumultuous skies that spoke to and so captured Georgia O'Keeffe's creative imagination.
— Journal of the Print World
The remarkable photographs by Craig Varjabedian are not only beautiful, but also extremely valuable documents of architecture, culture and lifestyle. From intimate portraits to expansive landscapes, Varjabedian's images, made primarily in black and white, celebrate the drama ad potency inherent in each subject's relationship to the photographer.
— Beaumont Newhall, preeminent 20th-century photographic historian and author of History of Photography: 1939 to the Present
Ghost Ranch is perhaps best known as the longtime home of American artist Georgia O'Keeffe, who captured some of the its most stunning scenery in her paintings. For more than twenty years, award-winning, fine art photographer Craig Varjabedian has explored and captured the red cliffs and sweeping plains of this fabled 21,000-acre area in northern New Mexico. In Ghost Ranch and the Faraway Nearby, he shares over 90 new duotone photographs capturing its evanescent light.
These images reach beyond familiar ideas associated with the Ranch — such as its renown as a site of personal renewal and transformation — into Varjabedian's singular vision of his subject and its ties to ideas of identity, place, and perception.
The name of photographic treasure comes from one of O’Keeffe’s famous paintings, From the Faraway, Nearby. In O’Keeffe wrote in 1976 that the Far Away was “a beautiful, untouched lonely-feeling place.”
Elaborating on his choice of book titles, Varjabedian said: "What she found in the West, and at Ghost Ranch, was a place where the open possibility of the landscape became one with what she felt inside herself, where depth and focus at once conflated the spatial orientation of the objects she painted, and pulled her nearer to her creative source.”
To further illuminate the experience of Ghost Ranch, Varjabedian gathered an "appreciation" of Ghost Ranch, written by Georgia O'Keeffe, and essays written to accompany his photographs. These include an evocative introduction by photographer Jay Packer, an essay by writer Marin Sardy examining the place's natural features and social history, and topical essays by theological studies professor Belden C. Lane, arts writer Douglas A. Fairfield, and former Ghost Ranch executive director Rob Craig. Also included are forewords by Cathy L. Wright, director of the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, and Debra Hepler, executive director of Ghost Ranch. (See About the Author below)
The Back Story
While walking home on a snowy Michigan day in 1970 after taking pictures for his high school newspaper, fourteen-year-old Craig Varjabedian passed by an art gallery. Inside he saw a man with a thick white beard hanging pictures on the wall of a gallery. The teenager was awestruck by images of sky and stone, mountains and rivers, trees and thunderclouds. Seeing the young onlooker, the old man invited him in. Soon they were talking about cameras and photography.
The white-haired man was Ansel Adams; and this chance meeting sealed Varjabedian’s future.
After studying art and photography at the University of Michigan and Rochester Institute of Technology, Varjabedian went to New Mexico to finish his thesis. There, a friend took him to see Ghost Ranch, an inspirational mecca for artists, poets, painters, and photographers, including Ansel Adams, who was a frequent visitor, and Georgia O’Keeffe, who lived and painted there for more than fifty years.
“It is an almost mythic land located in northern New Mexico, and when I first saw it over twenty years ago, it took my breath away,” says Varjabedian, who has been photographing the majestic landscape ever since. “I remember driving up the road and cresting the top of a hill where the whole Ghost Ranch valley opens up and felt like I had come home. Since that time, it has been a quest to make images that were consonant with the feelings the place evoked in me.”
I know exactly how he feels! I had the good fortune to be introduced to the mesmerizing beauty of northern New Mexico as a child, and if I don't get to visit several times a year to soak in its gentle grandeur and recharge my soul, well, let's just say I get a bit cranky. And, because Georgia O'Keeffe lived in and began to develop her unique style near my hometown in the Texas Panhandle, I was introduced to her work through the local museum at a young age.
Growing up in that ocean of land and sky, O'Keeffe's art was not abstract to me in any way - she was just trying to get people to see the beauty - often small, simple and taken for granted - that surrounds us daily.
Ghost Ranch is located 14 miles north of the village of Abiquiu, which is about 50 miles northwest of Santa Fe. The vast landscape is absolutely stunning at any time of day, in any season. And that is why I am so proud to offer Ghost Ranch and the Faraway Nearby in my shop! Craig Varjabedian's rich, engrossing black-and-white photographs help you do what Georgia O'Keeffe wanted people to do - see, really see...
Nobody sees a flower - really - it is so small it takes time - we haven't time - and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.
— Georgia O'Keeffe
So, take the time to slow down, breath deeply and see, really see the beauty of Ghost Ranch and the Faraway Nearby.
And if you want to savor some Georgia O'Keeffe at the same time, then you will want the must-have and newly published Georgia O'Keeffe Words l Works, Volume 1, that is in our Art & Photography Collection.
2010 winner of prestigious Wrangler Award for Outstanding Photography Book from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum